A band to recently rise out of the I, Absentee line up, the Red Falcon Projects is the collaboration of Warren Kroll (Dorosoto, Forrest) and Steve Lutes (Kontyx, Mall Security). As of late, RFP has become a group that I’ve been following closely. Together, the duo create a brand of ambient that calls to mind the sounds of early 90s acidic based chill out music and very mellow ambient house while spraying on a thin layer of 80s references. Lately, RFP have toyed with 80s nostalgia by releasing an album on cassette and a new DVD, chuck full of playful, gritty 80s era film samples and montages set to their music.
I was thinking of doing reviews for the aforementioned cassette release (“Microtonal Acid Dub”) and a separate one for the limited edition DVD (“Falcon Visions”) but it really wouldn’t do them justice. It might just be easier to talk about the project as a whole, their releases and why I find RFP so enjoyable.
I first noticed RFP when they appeared on Lunar Testing Lab’s “Space Program” album, remixing one of the tracks. At the time, there wasn’t much I could find under their name. I was soon relieved as I, Absentee announced the release of RFP’s first album, “Ice Warz ‘85” in 2009. I ordered my copy and was quite enamored. It was playful and a happy form of ambient that I thought was quite unique and I realized right off that this was something worth following.
Shortly thereafter came the remix EP, the fourth part of the ongoing “Twilight Fires” series on I, Absentee. Here, we were treated to an unreleased track and several varied remixes, including alterations by G.D. Luxxe, Skanform, Raiders of the Lost ARP and In2Minds. The end result was a trip into dubstep, acid and ambient. It is well worth it.
It was around this time that I had started to order extensively from the I, Absentee catalog. I picked up some Dorosoto, D.D. NewMole, Trills, Biocore 3, Maps and Diagrams and further adventures with Lunar Testing Lab, as well as a few various artist compilations. I currently have a wish list that’s about 80$ long just from that label alone that I will slowly be picking off from as the pay checks come in. Through the workings of social media, RFP’s members followed me and I in turn, followed them (and perhaps I’ve paid a lot more attention to them than to my own status updates). Pictures from their tours with Black Moth Super Rainbow surfaced now and then, as well as previews for new and upcoming tracks (for RFP and their solo projects). And it kind of made me miss making my own music (until I realized how much I need new equipment and hadn’t any cash….).
Eventually, the Falcons released “Falcon Visions” and the cassette, “Microtonal Acid Dub.” Right off the bat, the cassette launches us into some wild ambient acid. Gentle beats, soaring atmospheric synth and wondrous acid pulses make me kind of nostalgic. It may be because of the 80s themes on the cover art/inlay art, or the musical references to early 90s ambient, but while I play this through my headphones, I can’t help think of the old days when I was younger and everything seemed so new and awesome on TV, and the radio. The tracks on the A-side are so perfectly mellow and yet, captivating. It’s addictive and just sounds killer through headphones. The B-sides, a four part dub infusion, gently wash over you with soft and subtle beats, pulsing yet gentle synth and a soft atmospheric hiss that transports me to a warm and lazy sunny afternoon that’s slowly leading me into a night full of glowing stars. And while the music still leans on 90s elements, it feels a lot more futuristic here. The effects and the textures on the sounds feel modern but that in no way takes away from it. This is pure Falcon genius that you can’t get anywhere else. We slowly advance into thicker and hazier acid induced ambient and I really have to say at this point, I’m hard pressed to think of a single artist or band that makes sounds like what I am hearing now. Perhaps the only comparison—and it is a stretch—is that maybe it hints at early FAX ambient/acid works from the Namlook collaborations. But even so, this is far more unique and it has a lot more depth.
The DVD was quite amusing. It featured some newer tracks and a few older ones, all laced with the blissful haze of the 80s that I remember seeing on TV growing up. That is of course, cheesy kung fu films, crazy dancing, the promise of scientific and technological advancement and all sorts of glittery wildness; all finely diced, mixed and stirred together. It felt as if I were still in 1987 with my TV on mute, playing this futuristic music over the images.
And I guess that’s a big part about why I find the Falcons so enthralling. It is partly because they seem to take part in the retrofuturism electronic music has dipped its feet in lately. No, that’s not a bad thing, even though that term sounds so snooty. It certainly isn’t so retro that it sounds like it should have stayed in that time period but it really makes one nostalgic for circa 1994 ambient tunes and old school TV on a lazy, hot summer afternoon. In my opinion, it never hurts to take a look back at the past while dabbling with new sounds and directions. Still, I dislike that word… “retrofuturism” makes it sound like electronic music is trying to sound like Duran Duran again, which simply isn’t the case. Anyway…
I would certainly say as we slide further into the second decade of this new millennium, that the Red Falcon Projects is a group we should all keep an eye on. I am finding more and more that it is not (and usually is never) the big labels and the big bands that push music forward as much as we might think they do. It’s actually those folks who live on small labels and sometime self-release material that give the push that music needs to evolve. It’s only later that big labels catch on and sell it off. By that point, it’s not as unique and fun as it once was. RFP have a unique sound and are creating something new here that I’ve only seen glimpses of elsewhere. And despite the limited quantities of these latest releases, this is something you need to pick up and play (and play often).
If you would like a copy of the cassette album, “Microtonal Acid Dub,” it is limited to fifty copies. It is still available from the band’s Facebook page. If you’re hungry for “Falcon Visions,” a few copies are left (I think), also from their Facebook page. But it’d be a good idea to hurry as they were originally released on their last tour and only 30 of them have been pressed. Whatever is left, they have it on FB.
Also, check out RFP, Dorosoto and Mall Security here: